More On Friendship

Be merciful as God is merciful.
Stop judging, stop condemning and forgive.

From Luke 6:36-37

Some weeks ago, I shared fond memories a high school teacher. Sister Imelda was the first of many high school teachers who left an impression upon me. Though Sister was always pleasant to be around, she made her greatest impact during religion class.

It was during religion class that Sister addressed the value of friendship and our need to be open to unexpected friendships along the way. I eventually realized the wisdom in Sister’s observation. I remember observing classmates whom I considered “cool”. Because I didn’t count myself among them, I sometimes misjudged them. After closer observation and engaging with them on projects, at lunch and after school, I discovered that they suffered from the same insecurities and worries that I suffered from.

Eventually, I understood that we all have the power to make and to break others. We can enhance one another’s best qualities with our acceptance and love. We can also smooth each other’s rough spots with patience and understanding. This is the good news. The not-so-good news is that we can also accomplish the opposite with our judgment, ridicule and unkindness.

You and I will walk in the company of our fellow humans for a lifetime. Some will be friends and some won’t. Sometimes, we’ll bring out the best in one another. Sometimes, not so much. Whether or not we’re among friends, we can do something about those “not so much” scenarios. If we don’t like what we see, it’s up to us to say or do something to improve things. Maybe our kindness and understanding will be enough.

Dear God, help us to bring out the best in one another as best we can.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Just Be There

Jesus saw a vast crowd. He pitied them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them at great length.

Matthew 9:36

I worked as a reading teacher for many years. Though the subject area remained constant, my students’ grade levels varied as a result of my assignment, enrollment numbers and sometimes the whims of the powers-that-be. For a few years, I worked with only fifth through eighth graders. While I tended to enjoy all of my students, one group of eighth graders remains a favorite.

For some reason these particular students needed an adult ear. Every day when they reported to my classroom, they attempted to share their woes for the entire period. The truth is that they actually were not engaging in work avoidance. They had issues which needed to be dealt with. One day, a classmate had unexpectedly lost his dad. This turned my students’ world upside-down. They simply could not cope. After assisting them as best I could, we came to an agreement. Every day thereafter, we spent the first ten minutes of each period sharing. We spent the remaining thirty-five minutes engaged in reading. Apparently, they appreciated this gesture because they had both calmed down and greatly improved their reading skills by the end of the year. What more could I have hoped to do for them?

You know, many people I meet along the way also need an ear. Sometimes, listening is enough. Sometimes, a lesson in navigating “the rules” does the trick. Sometimes, a firm reminder that God loves them no matter what is required. Always, being present to them in the moment at hand is my best option.

Compassionate God, you know how precious our company is. Help us all to be generous with our presence to those who need us most.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Be A Friend

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.

Luke 6:36-37

Some weeks ago, I shared fond memories of my first high school homeroom teacher. Sister Imelda was actually the first of my many high school teachers who left an impression upon me. Though sister was a pleasant person to be around, she made her greatest impact during religion class.

It was during one of those classes that Sister Imelda remarked that we could get a good picture of ourselves by looking at our friends. Though Sister’s observation seems not always to hold true, there is wisdom to be found in what she said. During my teaching career, I often observed good kids being conned by the allure unsavory acquaintances. Giving in to behaviors that seemed “not so bad” led many unwary children down the frightening path to big trouble. The good news is that I also witnessed the opposite phenomenon. Placing troubled children in good company resulted in many unexpected liaisons which widened the horizons of all concerned. These amazing friendships changed everything for the children involved.

Today, you and I walk in the company of many friends, both expected and otherwise. Sometimes, we bring out the best in one another. Sometimes, not so much. I think Sister Imelda’s point was that we can do something about those “not so much” scenarios. If we don’t like what we see, it’s up to us to say or do something to improve things. Maybe our own good example will be enough.

Thank you, God, for the gift of our friends. Help us to bring out the best in one another as best we can.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved